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'Chattoyance' or 'holographic effect' as seen in some old violins.

September 21, 2012 at 11:47 PM

I made these two small videos trying to demonstrate the "chattoyance" or "holographic effect".

As the light moves the flames in the varnish wood moves and "dances". This is known is "chattoyance" or "holographic effect", as seen in old Italian instruments, here can be seen in one of my violas.

From Patrick Tinney
Posted on September 22, 2012 at 9:14 PM
Just beautiful, thank you.

When I purchased my violin on September 27, 2012 I swore that I would not care about brand or appearance, just playability and sound. After an hour and a half of me and my teacher fighting over a dozen instruments I went home with a wonder instrument that for some reason I thought was yellow. I was planning on a trial period but I fell in love.

The next day I found it was a golden brown and when I first looked inside the f holes I though ‘stripes’ I didn’t remember stripes. I turned it over and it is what I think is a very tight flamed maple. So I searched the web for tight verses not so tight maple.

The only thing I found at first was something about if you shine a light source on the flames and then move the light source the dark and the light flames switch. I was not prepared for the holographic effect. It is an amazing sight.

Again thank you for sharing these videos.

Posted on September 22, 2012 at 10:56 PM
You are correct, playability and sound are the most important things in my making too. But some visual aspects of the instrument may be also related to the sound, a good sounding violin will have beautifull archings too, for instance, and they are closely related.


From Paul Deck
Posted on September 23, 2012 at 1:32 AM
Perhaps this is a property of older Italian instruments and maybe there is variation by degree, but my 2006 Polish instrument has flaming that "moves" when you shine light on it from different angles, and with my 1972 American bird's-eye maple violin when you turn it, the eyes seem to follow you.
Posted on September 23, 2012 at 11:19 AM
Yes Paul, it can be seen in many modern and contemporary instruments too.
From Benedict Gomez
Posted on September 23, 2012 at 9:29 PM
Ditto, my 2007 has substantial flaming and does this too.
From Mark Simonetti
Posted on September 26, 2012 at 7:50 AM
I've had a few violins on approval recently (I'm looking to purchase my first) and they all seem to do this modern or old. It took me by surprise when I first noticed this when looking the instruments up and down.

I don't know if this is true, but I was told that if they don't do this then the flaming is painted on..

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